Union officials refused to allow workers to opt-out of paying for union politics and other activities
St. Louis, Missouri (April 29), 2009) – With free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Foundation, a St. Louis-based AT&T employee has filed unfair labor practice charges challenging a local area union’s compulsory dues requirements.
Despite resigning her union membership in 2004, Jeanette Burton of Imperial, Missouri was never informed of her right to opt-out of union dues used for politics and other non-bargaining activities. When Burton attempted to exercise her right to stop paying dues, Communication Workers of America (CWA) Local 6300 union officials ignored her objections and continued to collect full union dues from her paycheck.
Moreover, union officials continued to force Burton to pay dues after the union’s contract with AT&T expired in April 2009. The union’s previous agreement with AT&T contained a provision requiring nonmember employees to pay union dues for collective bargaining, but after the agreement lapsed, Burton could no longer be compelled to pay any dues to CWA officials.
CWA Local 6300 also failed to provide Burton with a federally-mandated audit of union financial expenditures, which is necessary to allow workers to determine whether they are being forced to pay more than can be required as a condition of employment.
Under the Foundation-won Supreme Court precedent Communication Workers v. Beck, nonmember employees can be forced to pay certain union dues as a condition of employment, but they cannot be compelled to pay for politics, lobbying, public relations, and other non-bargaining activities. Union officials are also legally obligated to inform workers of these rights.
The Foundation’s unfair labor practice charges seek an end to all unlawful union deductions and guarantees that the union hierarchy will comply with its Beck obligations and reimburse nonunion workers’ forced dues. The case will now be investigated by the National Labor Relations Board.
“Workers shouldn’t have to jump through legal hoops just to protect their hard-earned paychecks,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “The only way to stop future abuse is to pass a Missouri Right to Work law, making all union dues strictly voluntary.”